Protests have erupted in St. Louis after the acquittal of a former police officer who was charged with murder last year for the fatal shooting of a black driver after a car chase in 2011.

Videos posted on social media show demonstrators clashing with police officers Friday night in St. Louis, upon hearing the acquittal of former police officer Jason Stockley.

Image Credit: James Case/Harris County Sheriff's Office Jason Stockley and the .38 Taurus revolver he allegedly planted.
Image Credit: James Case/Harris County Sheriff’s Office Jason Stockley and the .38 Taurus revolver he allegedly planted.

St. Louis police Chief Lawrence O’Toole said at least 23 people had been arrested as of 6 p.m. O’Toole noted 10 police officers were being treated for injuries, including a dislocated shoulder and a broken jaw.

Demonstrators marched down the mayor’s house to protest against Stockley’s acquittal

Stockley was acquitted on Friday of the murder of 24-year-old Anthony Lamar Smith, which took place in December 2011. People gathered around the city to protest against the acquittal, carrying Black Lives Matter signs and demonstrating peacefully.

“Many of the demonstrators were peaceful,” O’Toole said in a joint video statement with Mayor Lyda Krewson, according to The Washington Post. “However, after dark, many agitators began to destroy property and assault police officers.”

O’Toole said the agitators assaulted police officers with bricks and bottles, while law enforcement officers responded by throwing tear gas canisters and firing pepper-spray balls as a “less lethal option.”

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch says nearly 1,000 protesters marched on the mayor’s home, throwing rocks and breaking windows. Police officials arrived at the scene and fired tear gas to disperse the crowd. The mayor was not home at the moment.

The verdict came as a surprise to many who thought there was no chance Stockley would avoid a sentence. In a court document, the investigators on the case said the former police officer and his partner had been chasing Smith at speeds up to 80 mph when Stockley said he was going to “kill this motherf—er, don’t you know it” and told his partner to drive into Smith’s slowing car.

Stockley carried unauthorized weapons with extra rounds

The court documents said the officer then approached Smith’s window and fired five times into the car, hitting the man with each shot and killing him. Furthermore, prosecutors said Stockley had even planted a gun inside Smith’s car, as it was determined the gun only had DNA from Stockley.

Protesters poured onto the streets after the verdict. Image Credit: Business Insider
Protesters poured onto the streets after the verdict. Image Credit: Business Insider

Nevertheless, the white police officer was acquitted on the murder charge and the charge of armed criminal action by Judge Timothy Wilson. The judge wrote he was “simply not firmly convinced” of Stockley’s guilt, saying he had gone through the evidence repeatedly.

Smith’s mother, Annie, said the judge gave the wrong verdict.

“Justice wasn’t served. I can never be at peace,” she told Fox2Now.

Stockley, 36, told St. Louis Post-Dispatch he knew everyone wanted someone to blame, but he’s just not the guy. The former police officer, who served with the Army in Iraq, said his job as a St. Louis officer had become so dangerous, he began carrying unauthorized weapons with extra rounds.

“I accept full responsibility for violating the rules,” said Stockley. “But it’s not a moral crime. It’s a rule violation.”

Source: The Washington Post